Less than two weeks before welcoming the world to his country for the World Cup, legendary Brazilian soccer star Pelé learned his son Edinho could be headed to jail after being found guilty of laundering money raised from drug trafficking.
Edinho, 43, who once played goalkeeper for his father’s old team, Santos, and is now a coach for the team, was sentenced this week to 33 years in prison. He was first arrested in 2005 and has served time for drug trafficking offenses and links with a notorious drug dealer in the city of Santos.
Brazilian media have not been able to contact Edinho, whose real name is Edson Cholbi do Nascimento, but he is expected to appeal. His detention and alleged involvement with drug gangs took most people in Brazil by surprise.
Judge Suzana Pereira said Edinho must surrender his passport to the court but can remain free as he appeals, which can take years in Brazil.
''The process is still open. He can still appeal and have another court review the case,'' Pereira said, according to the Associated Press.
In the early 1990s Edinho was charged with taking part in a high-speed race during which the other car hit and killed a motorcyclist. He was sentenced for manslaughter years later, then acquitted in 2005.
Edinho is Pelé’s third child from his first marriage. Pelé, a three-time World Cup champion widely recognized as the greatest player of all-time, was in China this week, on tour promoting his book “Why Soccer Matters” as well as this summer’s World Cup, the first in Brazil in 64 years. He did not comment on his son’s case.
But Pelé, now 73, had visited his son several times previously, saying there is not “a shred of evidence” against him.